As you may have heard, there’s an election coming up. Pundits have been telling us whom to vote for and who will win for a while now, and many of us have made up our minds on whom to vote for. That being said, I’d like to make the case for voting green on Election Day.

Of course, there are many other issues that we should think about when choosing whom to vote for. Our economy is in crisis. We continue to fight two prolonged and costly wars. As our position has weakened, various nations have shown increased aggression toward the United States, including Russia with its recent invasion of Georgia and the bellicose rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The possibility of another terrorist attack is still present. Here’s the thing: A vote for the environment, and more specifically against climate change, is in fact a vote for our economy and national security.

What got us into our current problems was shortsightedness. Lawmakers loosened regulations allowing banks to buy and leverage suspect debt thinking that everything would just keep going up. Homebuyers assumed they would be able to pay off their mortgages, and car owners kept buying gas guzzlers. The current administration attacked Iraq without any semblance of an exit plan and before securing the original terrorist havens of Afghanistan. We’ve been mortgaging our collective future by failing to consider the future effects of our current actions. If we act with the same shortsightedness on climate change, the looming climate crunch will put the credit crunch to shame.

Oil companies and business leaders would like you to think that the regulations necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change would cripple our economy. In fact, the opposite is true: Those regulations would create jobs while inaction would allow climate change to damage the global economy.

According to the Stern Review, a comprehensive analysis of the possible economic effects of climate change by former World Bank Chief Economist Lord Nicholas Stern, it would take 1 percent of global GDP each year to halt the gravest effects to the climate. Doing nothing, on the other hand, would result in at least a 5 percent drop in GDP each year and potentially a 20 percent drop, caused by the destructive and destabilizing consequences of climate change. Therefore, supporting the economy requires mitigating global warming.

Beyond this, energy policy that emphasizes efficiency and innovation can create new jobs and even boost the economy. A new study from University of California, Berkeley and Bay Area-based non-profit Next Ten shows that California’s forward-thinking energy policies have created 1.5 million jobs over the past 30 years as efficiency measures allowed consumers to spend less on electricity and more on goods and services. Additionally, the report predicts that AB 32, a 2006 bill that mandated reducing emission levels to 1990 levels by 2020, will raise the gross state product by $76 billion while creating up to 400,000 new green jobs.

While reducing emissions may prove difficult at first, in the long run, it will help our economy and avert the negative economic effects of full-fledged climate change.

Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, which would be necessary to counter global warming, would also have beneficial effects on our foreign policy and national security. As the system stands now, Iran, Russia and Venezuela profit greatly from the increasing global consumption of oil and natural gas, which is lead, in both fuels, by the United States. Both our reliance on those nations and the profits they gain by selling fossil fuels greatly inhibit our flexibility in the international arena.

This is especially important in light of Russia’s threats to cut off natural supplies to Europe and developments in Iran’s nuclear program. Climate change could also contribute to political instability in various hotspots around the world, including already fuming and nuclear-armed Pakistan. Many believe the conflict in Darfur is exacerbated by the local effects of climate change.

While they are not immediately obvious, the problems caused by climate change, and subordinately by our consumption of fossil fuels, will soon come to a head if we don’t do anything about them.

Thus, addressing climate change is necessary and essential to maintaining our economy at home and our ability to protect our interests abroad. So, when casting your vote, both nationally and locally, consider which candidate has been more enthusiastic about combating climate change.

Voting for them is a vote for the long-term health of our economy. It’s a vote for a more peaceful and stable future globally. And it’s very likely a vote for the foresight of which there’s been so little of over the past eight years.

Somerset Perry is a senior in the College. He can be reached at BIODEGRADABLE appears every other Friday.

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